Murder in church: Police seek tips on Osborne’s killer

| September 4, 2011

BLUEFIELD — During the last days of 1972, much of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph’s front page was focused on former President Harry S. Truman, who passed away Dec. 27 that year; however, the 33rd president’s demise was soon overtaken by another incident, the murder of a Bluefield resident.

On the morning of Dec. 28, 1972, the Rev. Neville Mozingo arrived at the First Church of God on South Street and discovered the bloody body of the church’s cleaning lady, Mary Osborne. Magistrate Jim Dent, who was a sergeant with the Bluefield Police Department at that time, remembered the day he was called to the scene.

“We got a call from the minister,” Dent recalled. “A cleaning lady for the church who was also a member had been found in the church. It looked like she had reported to church early for her usual job of getting the church ready. From the evidence we found, she was attacked as soon as she stepped through the door, in the vestibule. She was dragged down the hallway a short distance into a Sunday school room. She was left by the lectern, and she was still clothed. There appeared to be some blunt force injuries to the side of her head.”

Investigators soon found a possible murder weapon: A hammer wrapped in a towel.

“It was church property from back in the furnace room,” Dent said of the suspected weapon. “And it appears that somebody had used a sink. There were still water droplets in the sink bowl, so it hadn’t been used the night before or anything. I think there had been choir practice the night before, so there were people there and she was there.”

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Category: Church Security

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